Fun in the Snow

Helloooooo readers who clicked over here from Good Morning Washington! My name is Kristina, and if you look back at my previous appearances, you can play the "how many times does Kristina say "absolutely"" game.  It's a good time.

I made a really big effort not to do that this time.

Anyhow, we want to have fun in the snow with our kids.  Right?

Wrong.  We want to sit inside and drink Riesling and be left alone.  #TheStruggle

But we're good mommas, so we can do this!

Here's a rundown of my tips and tricks from News Channel 8!

1. Dress for Success
The worst part is getting your kids DRESSED! By the time you wrangle everyone and get them dressed, you're already exhausted.  Save yourself by making it easy-
1- Keep a basket of stuff for each child so that it's already sorted.
2- POTTY BREAK FIRST! There is nothing worse than thinking you're done and hearing "I have to go potty"
3- Layer- you definitely want a base layer, and if you have something wicking like smart wool or under armor, that's a great idea. Next go for your insulating layers, like sweaters or wool, and finally your outwear, which is ideal if it's water resistant and...
4- Tuck your edges! Anything you can tuck in (snowpants to boots, mittens to coat sleeves) is going to help prevent snow from getting into your child's fingers and toes, which are super vulnerable to cold.
2. Have Fun Outside!
When you go outside, you have lots of options. Of course you can sled or build a snowman, but you can also spray snow with water bottles of food color and water for a fun effect.  If it's under 32 degrees, bubbles will freeze once they're blown (just do it quickly!), and making your favorite sidewalk game (think hopscotch) into a snow game makes it extra challenging.  You can even freeze colored water into molds and hide it in deep snow for a fun "egg hunt" kind of game. 

3. Know When to Say When
Small children have a hard time knowing when they're too cold, and big children are stubborn as heck once they're having a good time.  Watch for red cheecks that look like they've been smacked or chattering teeth- they're a good indicator that your child needs some cocoa.  Also, if you're not using waterproof gloves, once they're wet, they're done. When you get inside, don't forget to hydrate- the cold can make people forget they're thirsty. Finally, know what the wind chill index is-20 to 0 degrees, not that I think most NOVA residents can handle it, is a significant frostbite risk.

Washington Auto Show

Last week I was able to go and check out the Washington Auto Show which is at the Washington Convention Center (opening Tuesday 1/26 due to snow through 1/31).  I was able to sit in on lots of talks about new technology that will offer greener options and cooler features, but what I really want to feature for you guys is what your kids might like at the Auto Show, because, well, that's what you come here for, isn't it?

Tickets start at $12 for adults and $5 for children (VIP options are also available) and you can (and in my opinion should) take the yellow line metro to the convention center- you walk right out of the metro station into the convention center.  There is parking, as well, but metro was easy and for one person was cheaper than parking.  Your call :)

There are a number of special guest appearances including Kirk Cousins of the Washington Redskins, the Redskins Cheerleaders, WWE superstar Roman Reigns, Gaby Espino (telenovela star), Military Tribute Day guest Alek Skarlatos, musical guests Darcy Dawn and the US Army Downrange Band, Lego Shaggy and Scooby Doo, and PBS Characters including Daniel Tiger, Super Why, and more.

On display are lots of luxury cars, concept cars, and historic vehicles that I think kids would really enjoy.  On the bottom floor, there's an electric "Hello Kitty" car, as well as Camp Jeep, which you can ride in if you're 44 inches or taller.  I was able to snag some video of that, which you can re-watch on periscope here:

There's also a kids area downstairs.  It wasn't ready to go when I was there, but it looks like they'll definitely have some space for them to sit and chill, it's near Kia and the bathrooms, so well played there :) I heard rumors of a moon bounce, but I can neither confirm nor deny that. There is a classic cars section downstairs, too, which my kids really like looking at.

Actual Model T they used to recreate Henry Ford's Trek from Detroit to California (upper level)
Upstairs there were some neat concept cars and some "cool" cars that I think kids would really like.  "Race cars" like Alfa Romeo, Corvettes, and more, as well as a Hydrogen concept Delorean from Back to the Future, and a Toyota simulator where you get to wear goggles and be driven around by a test dummy.

At the end of the day, if you have a car enthusiast, there's a lot for them to look at.  If the adults in your family want to go, you can definitely bring the kids along and keep them busy.  If you're going specifically for the kids, I would say 5+ because there is a TON of walking, and I would imagine on a Saturday or Sunday when most of you would go that there would be some waiting in line involved.  If you're bringing younger kids, I would definitely bring the stroller or backpack so that they can take a break if they need to.  If you're off during the snow and looking for something to do, you might be able to hit the show without a crowd and just enjoy your favorite cars!

Of course there's also a lot for grown ups to check out, too, and if you're in the market for a new car or you're interested in the advances in technology, especially where fuel alternatives are concerned, you'll enjoy the show.

Check out my walk around on Periscope looking for kid-friendly finds for more of an idea what the Auto Show is like! ktch.tv/6kKZ
Disclosure: SheBuysCars.com was gracious enough to invite me as part of their blogger group to visit the Washington Auto Show.  I was compensated for my time, but all opinions are my own.

Introducing 100 WWC Gainesville Area Chapter

100 Women Who Care is trying to open a Gainesville Area Chapter.  Read more about this organization and learn how you can get involved below. 

It’s a very simple concept: We gather 100 women who care to make a $100 donation during a 1 hour meeting.  

The impact: $10,000 to a local charity, four times a year!  

Formation of a Gainesville chapter of 100 WWC is in the works. Please join us for our first meeting, held in partnership with the NOVA chapter of 100 WWC, on February 4th, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. at the Centreville Regional Library, located at 14200 St. Germain Dr., Centreville, 20121). A good turnout from our area means all future meetings will be held in Gainesville! For more information, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1013008238756383/, or contact Julie Beal at julesnd02@yahoo.com or Hasna Ridwan at hasridwan@yahoo.com.


"Let's Try Politics"

Now before y'all go getting riled up, I am not trying to get up in here and tell you who to vote for.  I mean, if you want me to, you can email me and I will happily tell you how to copy my ballot, but I'm not going to issue PwcMoms endorsements.  So, read on without worrying that you'll have to read my feelings on Donald or Hillary, because you won't have to do that here.  I'm sharing this now because with the presidential campaigns heating up, it's a good time to get involved, and because the candidate I'm talking about is not currently in an election cycle, so it's not me pushing a candidate on you guys!
In Richmond- Riley is holding a picture of himself and Delegate Anderson from their first election. 
Once upon a time, I had a 5 year old, a 2.5 year old, and a 6 month old.

Those were good times.

And the soon-to-be Kindergartner came up to me one day and said "Momma, I want to do politics."

And, because I am probably certifiably insane, I said "Alright, let's do that."

So, we called our local political branch office (you can figure out which one if you want to by googling in a second, or remain blissfully ignorant and don't, I'm not here to judge), and they informed us that they had a brand new candidate for delegate, and he didn't have any volunteers yet since he'd just opened his campaign, and so he'd take what he could get, including a five year old.

So, at the appointed time on the appointed day, we showed up at said party's office.  The 5 year old lead the way in his JC Penney suit from Easter.

Because you know, he likes to have a good time, but he wants to be taken seriously, too.

And the 2 year old asleep in the stroller.

Because it was nap time, y'all.

And the 6 month old tied securely to me in my blue Moby wrap, because with three kids, you need your hands free, CAN I GET A WITNESS?

So, this motley crew marched into the office and a very friendly Rich Anderson looked up at us and smiled before asking "Can I help you?" even though I'm sure he wanted to ask "Lady, are you lost?"

Riley (captain kindergarten) informed him that we were his volunteers and we were there to help.  Rather than laugh us out of the office, Rich put us to work knocking on doors and folding brochures.

Savannah, Delegate Anderson, Mike May, and his son at the Occoquan Halloween Parade
Now, I tell you this story because I think that working on a political campaign is REALLY good for kids! I thought Riley would get sick of it, but he didn't, and 4 elections later, he's still an Anderson volunteer.  Even when I was in treatment,  Riley went out and knocked doors anyway!

So, why should you let your child volunteer for a political campaign?

Riley and Delegate Anderson- Riley was in 3rd Grade so this would be his 2nd term

1- It's Good To Know Where You Stand.  Do they have an issue they're particularly passionate about? What better way to work towards a solution than to promote a candidate that likes green cars or higher teacher salaries or homeschooling or veterans issues!

2- It's Good to Be Friendly.  Now, we all know stranger danger, but within the confines of having a safe adult with you, you learn a lot from knocking on doors! Riley has learned to shake hands, look people in the eye, and have a conversation with people a lot older than him who he wants to take him seriously.

3. It's Good to Get Told No.  Frequently.  Riley has also learned to have the door slammed in his face.  Now, most people are really good in our county- he's never been cussed at or anything like that, because people have always been on their best behavior when a kid comes with a candidate to the door, but he has definitely been told "go away" or listened to people share their concerns or grievances, and that's a really important thing to be able to do with grace.

4. It's Good to Know How to Treat People You Disagree With. Facebook teaches us dangerous lessons about how we can yell at people who disagree with our opinions behind the safety of a screen.  Learning to listen to someone dissent from your opinion, treat them with respect anyway, and not just scream and flood them with emojiis will serve him SO well in the future when he is in the workplace.

5. It's Good to Win.  There is nothing quite like working hard with someone from start to finish and feeling like a part of something.  It's even better when that something that started out as a dream comes to fruition.

6.  It's Also Good to Lose. And as Riley has learned he likes political work, we've been on the losing side of some campaigns, too. Sometimes, you have to brush yourself off and move on, even when you really believed in what you were doing and who you were working for.

7.  It's Good to Make Connections. While we've branched into some national-level campaign work, there is nothing like working with a local candidate and developing relationships in our community.  When your child works hard and later needs a recommendation or an evaluation or help with a merit badge or Gold Award or whatever thing it is, those relationships are great things to have.
Not all politicians are bad guys. Logan gives Delegate Anderson hugs, and not everybody gets one from him! 
Delegate Anderson, I should mention, is running unopposed this election cycle and didn't ask me to write this, or need me to, for that matter :)

If you'd like to get your child working, you can contact:
PW Democratic Committee
Prince William County Republican Party
PW Libertarians are running one candidate this cycle

School board members technically run unaffiliated.....although you don't have to look very hard to find out which party they're a member of, if that's important to you.

You can always contact individual candidates (just google them!) and tell them you'd like to be put to work.  Even if you don't particularly care for politics, the experience that you gain working a campaign can be great for you, and your kid!

Music Lessons in Prince William County with Musically Creative

Music consumes our lives.   We get in the car, turn on the radio, come home to music, watch American Idol and jog with our favorite tunes.  Did you ever stop to think that at one time these artists had no experience on their instruments or voices.   What an odd concept!   That’s where we come in…

We train beginners thru intermediate students how to play instruments!   You don’t have to wait until middle school to start!  We offer young guitar (ages 7-10), concert bands (ages 10 – adult), worship guitar (ages 10 – adult) and if there is enough interest, we will offer beginning strings or beginning recorders.   All of our classes are taught by trained and experienced music educators that love working with all ages!   We value music and want to make it affordable to all and therefore we offer classes for around $50 month.  We have multi-family member discounts as well since many siblings or parents like to take with their kids.  For this semester only we are offering a BOGO FREE BAND  (that would be around $25 month each!!) for two band members (must be siblings or parents).  

Classes are in Manassas and Gainesville and start in February, so there isn’t much time left to register.  Some classes will fill up!   For more details, visit www.MusicallyCreative.com today!


Review: Sky Zone

Let me tell you about the tremendous amount of trouble I got into the other day.  I have been avoiding actually going to the new trampoline parks because my brother (Physical Therapist) told me not to.  Granted, his growing list of things my kids shouldn’t be allowed to do because he had a patient who was injured doing them is getting really long.  Stairs, for example, or soccer, are also on the list.  Car doors, running, jumping, hammering, ice skating, all verboten.  Also walking on or off sidewalks. 

However, he’s also 6’7 so I generally try to listen to him.  Last time I had brain surgery he got to do my rehab work, so I like to stay on his good side. 

So when we were in Colorado a few months ago, I said my kids couldn’t go to the trampoline park with their other uncle.  Months of them asking later I finally relented and said I would take them to Sky Zone. 

My husband fed me a line of mess that I cannot even begin to describe to you here about what a hypocrite I am and how unfair I was being to his family….you guys, I can’t even. 

This really has nothing to do with the time we had, I just want you to know that I suffer so that you guys can have reviews. 


Now, on to the part you actually care about.

So we finally went to check out Sky Zone in Manassas.  It’s located in the old Kmart on Sudley Road.  The outside isn’t really all that impressive-

But once you get inside it’s really neat! The space is large and open, with tons of room to play.  There’s a foam pit, basketball dunking, dodgeball, plain old bouncing, and a lot of fun.  My friend and I got our waivers filled out and our kids checked in:

and hooked them up with their special socks-

And then we parked our happy selves upstairs in the viewing area- which is actually really smart! It’s above the snack bar and party rooms, and it gives you a really good vantage point to see all over the different jump areas, which is really nice if you’ve got 3 children who all went different places. 

You pay by the ½ hour, and we opted to go for the 1 hour option, which is $16/child.  Sky Socks are required, but you can reuse them, and are $2.  My kids were definitely hot and sweaty by the end of the hour, but they probably would have easily stayed at least another 30 minutes.  The stickers on your children indicate when you can start jumping and when it's time to go.

Riley (my 12 year old) said this was the coolest thing I’ve ever taken him to, and is currently plotting a way to get his Boy Scout patrol there for their next meeting.
 These older kids are playing dodgeball.  They also had another dodgeball court that was set aside for smaller kids to play in.  Dodgeball isn't a guarantee on slower days, but the day we went there were a million kids and it was really fun!
 The foam pit.  Kids bounce off the trampoline into the foam blocks.  Some kids just go traditional, others do backflips that will blow your mind.
Sky Slam is the only chance someone with my skills will ever have at slam dunking the ball.  But only on the short one. 

In addition to regular jumping (helpful hint- book your times ahead of arriving so that you don’t risk a sell out), Sky Zone also offers facility rentals, group events, just dodgeball, and special pricing for Toddler hours, homeschoolers, first responders, and they even have a special time for ages 16 and up to come in without having to worry about trampling little people!

And, of course, birthday parties!

Check out Sky Zone on Facebook, Twitter, and their website for more information and current hours and specials!

Disclaimer: PwcMoms was provided with free admission to complete this review, but all opinions are our own. Like any physical activity, there are some risks involved, and you must sign a waiver and participate at your own risk.  Please make smart decisions about what is best for your family, PwcMoms is not liable for your experience at any venue we review. 


Playground to Paris: A Basic Photography Workshop 2016!

Playground to Paris: A Basic Photography Workshop!
Maybe it was Christmas morning when you received your first DSLR camera. Or shortly before or after the birth of your first child. You planned to document every milestone with crisp clarity – so perfect that it would appear that you were reliving the moment with each glance of the photograph. You excitedly opened the new box and unloaded a piece of machinery that weighs more than a small child and has more buttons and controls than an airplane cockpit. How in the world will you ever understand how to use this investment? All you wanted were a few good shots of your family!!!
If you can relate to this common momtographer dilemma, then this workshop is for you! 
Don’t resort to accepting iPhone shots of your daughter’s recital. Don’t be ok with your son all blurry as he scores the winning goal! Or worse! Is your “good” camera stored at home – and you aren’t even sure where! Gain control of your DSLR and proudly carry it with you to all your events and USE it like a Pro!
“Playground to Paris” is a 3-hour hands-on experience with Rachael Nichols, teacher and photographer with Parlez-Vous Photography, as you learn how to get your DSLR OFF of Auto and ON to great family memories.

What’s included:
Meet other beginning camera users who share your struggles of learning to use their DSLR camera
Discover what all the buttons are and when is the appropriate time to use which setting
An explanation and practical practice of the basics needed for Correct Exposure using Manual Mode.
How to best work with kids/adults
Hands-on practice inside the meeting room and outside on the streets of Occoquan
Complimentary Professional Headshots for all attendees (because you deserve to be in the spotlight too!)
Take-home materials for continued practice and review
Morning and Afternoon Snacks
Gift and raffle items
Invitation to join an informative and interactive Facebook group open to workshop attendees only
Discounts for future sessions and workshops with Parlez-Vous Photography
Other details:
This practical and hands-on workshop will be held on
Sunday, January 31st. 9am-12pm
The Loft Gallery in Historic Occoquan
313 Mill Street, Occoquan VA
Be sure to use the coupon code: “PWCMOMs" to save $25


Review: SchoolhouseTeachers.com Yearly Membership

I know that not all of you homeschool, but I know that a lot of you come to me for advice about homeschooling, so this year I took advantage of an opportunity to work with the Old Schoolhouse Magazine's Review Crew to bring you guys some fresh ideas on making education work at your home.  If you don't homeschool, there's still tons of information available here that you could use to supplement what your child is getting at school, fill in a gap in their learning, or meet a need for an interest they have that isn't being met in the classroom. 

So, now that we all know what's going on here....

My first invitation was to review SchoolhouseTeachers.com's Yearly Membership.  This amazing subscription service offers over 200 courses from preschool through 12th grade.  There are classes on everything from math to computers to Bible to foreign language.  There's nutrition and fitness, geography, science, and even art! Now, as far as value goes, I think it says it all with the foreign language.  If you're teaching foreign language at home, or if you need a little extra help for your student, you can't beat the price of SchoolhouseTeachers.com simply based on their courses in languages! You can join for $12.95 a month, or you can join for $139 for the year.  A certain language course you can purchase that's named after a famous rock (ahem, not naming names) is $99 for one level!

What I was particularly excited about, though, was art.  When we lived in Woodbridge we took homeschool art classes, which were fantastic, although with three kids the costs definitely stacked up.  Now that we're in Manassas, art instruction all falls directly on my shoulders, and let me just tell you I stink at it.  I was never a particularly enthusiastic art student, and while I enjoy a good craft for me, I find making art with the kids to be stressful! I'm never sure how things will turn out, I don't really have great ideas, and I just haven't really been doing as well as I could have with them in this area.

SchoolhouseTeachers Review 2016
Courses are broken down for art by Elementary, Middle, and High School.  Everything is pre-recorded, so you can take lessons in any order, take a break, skip ahead, whatever works for you.  Since two of my kids are elementary and one is 6th grade, I decided we'd go ahead and try one of the Elementary options, which include South African Art Appreciation, Art Techniques, Elementary Art, and Everyday Easels.

We ended up going with Elementary Art, which offers an initial twelve unit lesson on Great Artists. These are very simple and easy art lessons that I can add into our day without a lot of fuss or struggle- which is important with our schedule! I love that they're really "grab and go" and designed to use what you already have.  Our Michelangelo unit, for example, gave us just a paragraph or so of background on the artist, samples of his work to look at, and a suggestion for an art project we could complete with materials that were already in our house! Brilliant.  I love that these can really be a "oh, we have time- let's do a quick art lesson".

Savannah is drawing on paper taped to the chair- we learned about Michelangelo and this was the suggested project to replicate drawing on ceilings- minus the scaffolding!
This was a big hit for me and my younger two, but my middle schooler was not impressed.  Too easy, he declared.

Riley loves oil pastels- that's a tomato and two peaches
Well, fine.  Since the subscription covers everything on the site, we'll just switch you to something else! For him, we ended up selecting "Art Techniques" which offers various 4 module lessons on different media.  Riley really likes chalk and oil pastels, so we decided to start there.  I like that these lessons are written to the student.  They tell them what materials they'll need, and they walk them through the procedure for what they are to do.  Oil pastels moved Riley from sketching the basic lines of a picture (day one) to a fully finished art work (day four).  Since he can read the lessons himself and use the teacher's examples for what he's supposed to have accomplished by the end of the lesson, this is really something he can do in his down time between lessons.
Next up, we are really excited to try the keyboarding and computer science options! I think that there is a bit of something for everyone on SchoolhouseTeachers.com, and we're really looking forward to exploring it all as we have the opportunity! I think over the summer it will be really fun to let everyone pick their own unit of study for enrichment.  I am 100% positive my middle child will be taking Geology (there's 2 units!) and will be super excited about it!

SchoolhouseTeachers.com Review 2016
Crew Disclaimer


Keeping Your Kids Busy Indoors

If you're here from News Channel 8, welcome :)

There are LOTS of options for keeping your kids from going stir-crazy, even when it's 10 degrees outside.  You can always use our pwcmoms.com calendar to see what options we have any day of the week, but here are some general ideas!

1- Utilize Community Resources
Take advantage of the FREE library programs and inexpensive options at your local community center.  People often forget about what great options there are at these places because they're so busy looking for bells and whistles.  Check out the Kiddie Time at the Dale City Rec Center- it's only $3 per child, non-walkers and parents are free.  There's plenty of room in their gym and kids can run around with other children while you enjoy some time out of the house.  Chinn Park offers a "Family Swim Time" where 4 can swim for $15.  While you might not immediately think of swimming as a winter activity, they keep the pool area nice and warm- just bring a hat or a blow dryer for before you leave! Can you go play at Chick Fil A for free? Yes, you can, and that's an option, too! Just be prepared for a lot of other moms to have the same idea.

Playing with cows at a Chick Fil A Family Night
2- Follow Your Favorites and Know When to Go
There are a ton of AMAZING indoor options that can be really fun to take advantage of, but I didn't get a winter bonus to cover the cost of keeping my kids entertained, and I doubt you did, either! Follow your favorite indoor places on Facebook and/or Twitter so that you know if they're running a promotion or have an ongoing deal on a certain day of the week.  Then, plan around the times that are going to be the best to go for your wallet.  If a business posts a flash sale, take advantage! It's also worthwhile to follow Certifikid so you can take advantage of highly discounted passes or trial offers.
Animated Child recently offered Facebook fans a free Minecraft session if they brought food for the shelter

3- Get Creative! 
We love our unfinished basement for hockey, roller skating, and biking when we can't do them outside.  Just make sure your kids know that the helmet rule still applies- concrete hurts just as much as asphalt! You can pull the cars out of your garage and do the same thing. Fill up the tub with snow for younger children to play with when it's too cold outside.  Have a dance party in your living room (bonus points for snagging some glow sticks from the Target Dollar Spot).  All of these activities can help burn off extra energy and cost you nothing! Got Wii Sports or Dance Dance Revolution? Plug em in and get moving!
We got a deal at Vertical Rock by taking a group.  Get some other moms together and split a group rate. 
4- Embrace the Season
It's winter.  It's cold.  That's fine! Put on your hat, gloves, and coat and take advantage of outdoor ice skating at places like the Harris Pavilion, or take a winter hike.  If you get the kids nice and chilly, maybe they'll even curl up by the fireplace with a book when you get home! Obviously this works best if you select a day that's "warm" and not a day when we're having a Polar Vortex- use common sense and base your outings on your children's age and tolerance level.
Outdoor Skating at Harris Pavilion

5- Track Progress
Businesses like Chuck E Cheese offer Incentive Charts that get kids free tokens.  It's a good way to earn some fun out of the house.  Also, at report card time, you can find a bunch of different restaurants, businesses, and activities that offer a discount or freebie to kids with good grades!
The slide at the Freedom Center in Manassas


Old Town Throw Down

I have to confess something.  Growing up in this area, I always thought Manassas was a little trashy.  I was actually nervous about moving "down" from the 22192 to the 20110.

But guys, Manassas is awesome.

That's me in Manassas in 2013, photo credit: Whitney Pointe Photography

And nowhere is that more evident than in a comparison of Historic Manassas vs. Historic Occoquan.

(Some of you are about to be seething mad at me.  It's okay.  I understand.)

1.  Ambiance/Adorableness
Guys, Occoquan is not cute.  It COULD be cute, but it's not.  Building owners don't do maintenance on the outsides of their buildings, and as a result the whole thing looks like it needs powerwashed.  Old Town Manassas puts flowers on their lampposts. Christmas is also adorbs.  
Winner: Manassas

Holiday Carriage Rides in Manassas at Christmas, Photo Credit: visitpwc.com

2. Tasty Goodness
Now if it's lunchtime, you can get a French Orchard from Blue Arbor, so I will give Occoquan that.  However, if we're talking dinner time....well....
Madigans- 3 stars on yelp.com
Virginia Grill- 2 stars on yelp.com
The Secret Garden Cafe is now serving dinner and their lunches were very good! 4.5 stars on yelp.

Wanna eat dinner in Manassas? Not a problem!
Katerina's Greek Cusine- 4.5 stars on yelp
Okra's Louisiana Bistro- 4 stars on yelp
CJ Fins Raw Bar- 4.5 stars on yelp
Malones, Siam Bistro, Philadelphia Tavern, 4 stars on yelp.
City Tavern is only 3.5 stars on yelp, which is probably because they don't have an NFL Sunday ticket ;) 
Winner: Manassas

Eggplant Tortellini at Malone's of Manassas

3. Shopping
So, Occoquan actually has some really cute stores.  I love Touch of Gold's bracelets and Troll Beads, and I love Polka Dot Divas.  I do not understand why every store in Occoquan closes at 5pm and is closed on Monday.  They seem to serve a very elite weekday clientele of ladies who lunch. Dansk Day Spa is amazing. Details is super super cute, although I cannot afford to actually buy anything there!! 

In Manassas, the Allyssa Bryn Market Place is really cute, and being a giant dork, I could wander around Prospero's Books all day. I haven't been to the new Olive Oil store, but I plan to go!  I will say they have fewer shopping shops than Occoquan.
Winner: Occoquan

The Polka Dot Divas is my go-to for girlfriend gifts! They're located in Occoquan and have an adorable storefront.  Photo Credit: Polka Dot Divas

4. Fun Events
Hands DOWN Manassas wins here.  With weekly concerts, a pop up skating rink, live outdoor music between restaurants on Friday nights, dance lessons, fireworks, a museum, and more, there's always something to do in Manassas. There are also tons of fun parades for various holidays, first fridays, and more.  Love love love. 

Occoquan does have Santa come in on a boat every year (but Manassas has a parade, tree lighting, and Santa Train depot).  
Winner: Manassas

Greek Festival.  My middle son is angry he didn't get the mustache.  Manassas. 

5. Farmers Market
Not even a contest. Manassas has one.  Occoquan doesn't.
Winner: Manassas


New Years Resolution 2016

I have given up on being skinny, y'all.  I lack the willpower to live off of caffeine and dreams, and that whole "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" thing? Obviously that person never learned to cook because I can give you a list of things that taste that good. I did 21 Day Fix, which I loved, and I felt really good and I did lose some inches, but I didn't lose a single pound.

Not one.

And that was incredibly hard on me! Don't I just want to be healthy? No- I just want the scale to say that I'm worth living.

So this year, I'm going to work on changing that.  I am not going to define my self-worth with a number on a piece of battery-operated plastic.  Instead, I am going to answer the question about "Just wanting to be healthy" with a yes.  Yes, I just want to be healthy.  So I'm going to run.  Before I got sick I ran the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, and I'd like to get back to that, but I get wicked headaches now from my brain surgery, so I want to set myself up for success and not failure, so my goal is a 5k every month in 2016.  I don't have to get a certain time, I don't have to come in a certain place, I just have to run because I want to be healthy.

(And by "run" I mean "go".  My current "run" pace is some people's "walking" pace. That's fine.)

When I brought this topic up on Facebook, a lot of you expressed similar goals- whether you want to start walking, jogging, try a 5k, or you actually do want to lose some weight or whatever.

(I think you're just fine how you are, btw.  I've never known you any other way than the way you are right now and I accept you just like you are.  In case you don't have anyone else in your life to tell you that, let me be the first.)

However, if you wanna come out and "go" the course with us, I'd love company.  Here's the schedule for 2016, subject to change, especially since the race calendars I'm finding don't necessarily have commitments for farther out in the year:

The Tour de PWCMoms 2016 Race Planner
January: January 17, 2016 Celebrate Community 5k (Alexandria)
February: February 14, 2016 Run Your Heart Out (Fairfax)
March: March 12, 2016 Lucky Leprechaun 5k (Reston)
April: April 10, 2016 Heroes vs. Villains 5k (Fairfax) Family Friendly, kids run, family activities
May: May 1, 2016 Race for Hope DC (DC)
June: June 11, 2016 Twilight Festival (Ashburn) stroller friendly course with food/fun/moonbounces.
July: July 4, 2016 Firecracker 5k (Manassas) 
August: Date TBD Hoping they'll host the Starlight Run again in Triangle.
September: September 10, 2016 The Color Vibe 5k (Manassas)
October: Date TBD, again, hopeful they'll repeat the Columbus Day run at Leesylvania
November: November 24, 2016 Turkey Trot (Manassas)
December: December 31 Festival of Lights 5k (Centreville)

If you're looking for people to run with, a shoutout to Lake Ridge RidgeRunners and Moms Run this Town Manassas/PWC 

Annnnd....I think that's it.  To recap, you rock just the way you are, the goal for me this year is not to think my self-worth is defined by my scale, and we're gonna do some 5ks. Come if you want, I'd love to see you there.